While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, March 27

People sit at a restaurant at a shopping mall in Singapore where social distancing signs are seen on March 26, 2020.
People sit at a restaurant at a shopping mall in Singapore where social distancing signs are seen on March 26, 2020.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Coronavirus: Singapore's safe distancing rules kick in

From Friday, people in Singapore who intentionally sit down less than 1m away from another person in a public place or on a fixed seat marked as not to be occupied, or who stand in a queue less than 1m away from another person, will be guilty of an offence.

They can be fined up to $10,000, jailed for up to six months, or face both penalties upon conviction under updates to the Infectious Diseases Act made by the Ministry of Health and published in the Government Gazette on Thursday (March 26) night.

The latest regulations, which came into effect at 11.59pm on Thursday, seek to give legal force to safe distancing measures announced on Tuesday by the multi-ministry task force tackling the coronavirus pandemic in Singapore.

These limit gatherings outside of work and school to 10 persons or fewer, and ensure that physical distancing of at least one metre is maintained in non-transient settings such as at coffee shops, restaurants, and shopping malls.


China to suspend entry of foreigners with visas, residence permits

China has banned foreigners with valid visas and residence permits from entering the country in a drastic move that amounts almost to a total shutdown of its borders as it also severely restricts international flights.

In a late-night announcement on Thursday night, its foreign ministry said only diplomats, those engaged in emergency humanitarian work, or “necessary economic, trade, scientific or technological activities” and those with C visas are exempted from the suspension, which will begin Saturday.

C visas are given to foreigners who provide international transportation services.


Coronavirus: G-20 leaders to inject US$5 trillion into global economy to fight bug

Leaders of the Group of 20 (G-20) major economies pledged on Thursday to inject US$5 trillion (S$7 trillion) in fiscal spending into the global economy to blunt the economic impact of the coronavirus and “do whatever it takes to overcome the pandemic.”

Showing more unity than at any time since the 2008-2009 financial crisis that led to the G-20’s creation, the leaders said they committed during a videoconference summit to implement and fund all necessary health measures needed to stop the virus’spread.

In a statement containing the most conciliatory language on trade in years, the G-20 leaders pledged to ensure the flow of vital medical supplies and other goods across borders and to resolve supply chain disruptions.


Coronavirus: Italy’s dead overwhelm morgues as virus toll tops 8,000

An overwhelmed Italian city at the heart of the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday sent more of its dead to nearby towns for cremation as the country’s world-leading toll topped 8,000.

Officials in Rome reported 662 new deaths and 6,153 infections – largely in line with the figures reported throughout the week.

The rise in daily deaths edged down to the lowest point in the crisis – 8.8 per cent – while the infection rate stood at around 8 per cent for the fourth day running. But the numbers are not dropping much further and Italians appear to be coming to terms with the realisation that two weeks of life under lockdown have not made the disease go away.


Olympics: Athletes qualified for Tokyo 2020 will keep 2021 spots

Athletes who had already qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics before they were postponed will keep their places when the showpiece takes place in 2021, sources told AFP on Thursday.

Around 57 per cent of the 11,000 scheduled participants for Tokyo had already made sure of taking part when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) pushed the Games back to 2021 due to the coronavirus on Tuesday.

The IOC and 32 international sports federations held a teleconference on Thursday where it was decided to respect the qualification process.